When it comes to planning conferences, it's crucial that your venue aligns with your sustainability objectives. There are plenty of venues out there that are making real leaps towards sustainable practices, but it can be difficult to know how to find them.
We've put together this selection of the top sustainable conference venues in London to make going green a little easier - read on to find the perfect spot for your conference.
BMA House have been driving the sustainability bandwagon since before most of us got on board. Their commitments to reducing their impact on the environment have seen them recognised with a shelf-full of sustainability awards, including a Green Tourism GOLD award, and Hire Space’s own ‘Greenest Venue’ award in 2018 and 2019. In 2022, they were one of the first venues in the UK to achieve a Greengage ECOsmart Platinum level award - a serious mark of their efforts.
As well as implementing sustainability measures in-house, like using only renewable electricity, LED lighting, and intelligent water management urinals (all towards their goal of being carbon neutral by 2030), they incentivise conference guests to have a greener experience. To this end, they've created a ‘Clean Air Walking Route’ from King’s Cross to reduce taxis, and provide a map to show food mileage and help organisers make better menu choices. For an added bonus for conference guests, the venue uses leftover waste to create sustainable collapsible coffee cups!
Capacity: 300 theatre
Central Hall Westminster is another venue that really makes the green grade, with a Green Tourism Gold award to its name, as well as being one of the first venues in the UK to achieve the Greengage ECOsmart Platinum award. We chose to host our own event, EventLAB, at the venue last year and they helped keep our event impact low with their energy and water-saving measures - as well as being a fantastic backdrop for our conference sessions.
Some of their in-house measures include installing special taps to reduce water usage, and LED bulbs to save energy, as well as having integrated digital screens and signage across the building. The venue team also help organisers to stay as sustainable as possible in their planning by providing a checklist for greener events, covering delegate transport, catering, waste prevention, energy consumption and more.
Capacity: 913 theatre
The Business Design Centre has been a certified CarbonNeutral® venue since 2010, and is way ahead of the curve when it comes to meeting green targets. They’ve recently launched a new roadmap to Net Zero so organisers can rest assured that the venue is playing its part in reducing carbon emissions. From using renewable sources for electricity, to installing electric charging points in the car park and loading bay, they’re constantly making improvements to the venue’s carbon footprint.
The venue doesn’t send any waste to landfill, instead making sure it’s recycled, composted, or sent to energy recovery - they even run a programme to help clients and the venue team to recycle reusable business waste by donating items that can be used to charities, schools, and play centres. Now that’s a business model that's designed well!
Capacity: 1500 theatre
Friends House is charting a course to a sustainable future, working with a sustainability consultancy on continuously reducing their impact on the environment. Their carbon footprint went down by 22% in 2019, and they’ve kept making big changes since to cut down on their emissions, from using 100% renewable electricity from Good Energy, to replacing boilers, re-insulating the building, and implementing a building management system to control their heating and ventilation. All of this has led to the venue achieving a Green Tourism Gold award, ECOsmart Platinum accreditation, and a MIA Silver Meetings award - quite the collection!
To help conference organisers reduce the footprint of their event, the venue provides information on the comparative impact of menus, and uses locally-sourced ingredients and environmentally-friendly products wherever possible. They also have a rainwater harvesting system, and motion sensors on taps - this is one venue that understands how important it is to protect natural resources.
Capacity: 1000 theatre
The View at The Royal College of Surgeons has a strong emphasis on sustainability, particularly from a catering perspective. With a prestigious 3-star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, and strong commitments across waste and energy reduction, this venue is embracing the green view.
One unique feature of the venue (other than the frankly jaw-dropping views from its main conference space) is the 111 solar panels which are spread across the building, making the venue a provider of renewable energy. Meanwhile, Searcys, the venue’s caterers, champion local produce and no waste goes to landfill, placing this venue head and shoulders above most others for sustainable conferences (and the outlook isn’t bad from that height!).
Capacity: 300 theatre
Church House Westminster are sticklers for sustainability, training their team to minimise energy and waste, and picking up awards like the Platinum ECOsmart award and Green Tourism Silver award on the way. They are redesigning the building to be carbon-neutral, and are already working towards this with key areas of the building using sensory taps and water-saving urinals, while waste is reduced as much as possible.
They seek to use local products and services to reduce transport mileage, and also offer an interactive virtual tour for organisers wanting to explore the venue online, saving travel miles to and from the venue. They have policies in place to cut down on waste, from working on eliminating plastic in packaging to sending coffee grounds to be turned into fuel briquettes. Supplies for client events are all made of recycled materials, meaning events at this venue have a smaller footprint than elsewhere.
Capacity: 664 theatre
CCT Venues are award winners in sustainability, with a track record of greening their operations consistently for decades. By cutting down on single-use plastic, installing motion sensor lighting, donating unneeded electrical equipment to charities, and having a policy of refurbishing over replacing wherever possible, they've put sustainability at the forefront of what they do, which makes conferences at the venue a whole shade greener.
CCT Venues have also brought in a Sustainable Purchasing Policy, which requires any suppliers to share their sustainability measures before being contracted. This means that catering and materials in the venue are less impactful than elsewhere, and, in fact, the venue takes it one step further by having a food sustainability policy that sees any unused food composted or turned into biofuel. They've also recently implemented a Plant a Tree Initiative, where they plant a protected tree on behalf of the client every time an event is booked with them, to help offset the environmental impact of running an event.
Location: Canary Wharf
Capacity: 250 theatre
Found the perfect backdrop for your conference? Get in touch to enquire about booking it now - missing out will only have you feeling green with envy, after all! If you haven't quite found the space you're after, have a browse of other top sustainable conference spots at the button below.
For more guidance and support on planning sustainable events, check out our Sustainability Hub, where you'll find plenty more resources and inspiration for making sure your event's impact is as low as possible.
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Jessamy channels her passion for sustainability and cultural events into shining a spotlight on innovation and inspiration in the events world, and heading up Hire Space's sustainability committee.